The Limits

But before I get into any specific strategy stuff I am going to have to talk about a bunch of different logistical items. Firstly, as mentioned this book will be mostly concerned with NL2 and NL5. Many people erroneously believe that these two games basically play the same. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the relative difference between these two limits is the largest that you will face at any point during your poker career.


NL2 is very unique but not just because it is the smallest amount of money that you can play no limit hold’em for on the internet. NL2 is different because it is the last bastion of completely insane play. This limit is filled with people who are just playing poker online for the first time, intoxicated lunatics shoving every hand and a whole host of other really bad players who are just begging you to take their money. Multiple huge fish can usually be found on every single table and almost every regular has significant leaks in their game.

I am still able to maintain a double digit big bet winrate in this game in 2011. There is no other game where this is even remotely possible today. NL2 is a circus. That is the best way to describe it.


At NL5 the play tightens up considerably. At this level you will find quite a bit less fish. And there will be many more dedicated regulars, some of whom are reasonably competent players. Since this is the second level of online poker, you generally won’t find the total newbies or the ones just coming up from play money. But don’t get me wrong, the play is still very soft at this stake. It is just noticeably different when compared to NL2.

Two Very Different Games

Your winrate will decrease by quite a bit at NL5. My winrate in 2011 at this stake is 5 BB/100. This is half of what my NL2 winrate is at 10 BB/100. This precipitous drop is the surest evidence of the difference between these two stakes. But again, this is mostly due to the sheer insanity that is NL2. Any level seems quite a bit more difficult when compared to it.

And for this reason, many of the concepts addressed in this book will be prefaced with the NL2 approach and the NL5 approach. As mentioned however much of the strategy advice offered for NL5 will be applicable at NL10, NL25 and so forth as well. On the flip side, the advice for NL2 is often specific to that limit only. Whereas I prefer fairly standard lines and strategies at NL5, I sometimes go way off the radar at NL2 in many regards.

A lot of people may scoff at some of the outlandish suggestions that I will be offering for NL2 in this book. Well firstly to that I would simply counter, they work. I am the #1 winner of all-time at that stake and I use them. In fact I have noticed countless NL2 regulars copying my strategies over the years. And as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

But a better retort is this. Nathan, why learn a bunch of strategies that only apply to one limit especially when I won’t be sticking around there for very long? Indeed, it seems comparable to learning some obscure tribal language. What’s the point? Why not just study a common language that a lot of people speak? I will tell you why.

Many of the NL2 specific strategies that I will put forth in this book are based on logic. No I am not a philosopher or even a logician by any means. What I mean by this is that much of this game is deeply rooted in making solid decisions based off of the information that your opponents are giving you. In fact I think that is what interested me so much about this game in the first place.

I formulated many of my strategies as a direct response to the information that my opponents were giving me and the lines that they were commonly taking. One size does not fit all in poker. As I mentioned above, NL2 is a totally unique limit. Can you beat it by using the more “standard” approach that I will offer for NL5 and higher? Yes, absolutely. But will you crush it beyond belief and more importantly understand why you are having such success? No.

And like I said that is the heart of what this game is all about in my opinion; adapting to your opponents. That is why there are so few concrete rules about how to have success in poker. The best approach that you should take in any individual hand usually depends on so many different factors that are specific to that particular situation. There is often no one right way to play it.

And so while many of these NL2 ideas may seem tedious or downright silly to learn, I can promise you that this exercise will be useful to you beyond measure down the line. This is because it will teach you how to think about this game in the right way.

Poker is a game that is always changing, especially the online game. Being able to see through the way it currently plays, and develop counter strategies on the fly, is what is going to bring you the most success. This is one of the biggest reasons why the top players are where they are. They are always one step ahead of the game.

If you work reasonably hard at this game but simply do what everyone else is doing, you can still make plenty of money off the fish but you will probably wind up with a mediocre winrate at best. If you want to truly crush it, you will need to step off the well trodden path from time to time and create your own. This is one of the main ideas that I hope to instill in you in this book.

And if nothing else, these crazy ideas for NL2 will hopefully up your winrate while you are there and put some more money in your bankroll. Who doesn’t want that?

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